Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (2017)
Critic Consensus: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales proves that neither a change in directors nor an undead Javier Bardem is enough to drain this sinking franchise's murky bilge.
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as Capt. Jack Sparrow
as Will Turner
as Carina Smyth
as Capt. Salazar
as Haifaa Meni
as Spanish Soldier
as Towns Woman
as Pirate Broom
as Mayor's Wife
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Critic Reviews for Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
The bounty of bawdy bits feel borrowed from Benny Hill ("No woman's ever handled my Herschel before!" says a stunned telescope operator), while the slapstick violence skews toward the Three Stooges.
Is this really only the fifth entry in the Pirates film franchise? It feels like the 50th. Except for Javier Bardem, who brings a dollop of fresh mischief to this paycheck party, Dead Men has all the flavor of rotting leftovers.
Directors Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg work up a stormy sea-parting finale that is better than anything in The Ten Commandments. Again, the trick to enjoying this film is to expect nothing.
I daresay it is the very best fourth sequel ever made to a movie based on a 50-year-old theme park ride.
There are no new treasures to be found in this installment, which is dragged down by the anchor of a prescribed franchise blueprint.
Audience Reviews for Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
Rest assured fans, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales is a definite improvement over its waterlogged 2011 predecessor, but I can't help feeling like the magic of this franchise, and even the high spirits of the immediate sequels, has been squelched. It's a multi billion-dollar franchise born from a theme park ride and now I think I'm ready for that ride to come to an end. Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) is once again in the middle of some high seas hijinks. Everyone is on a collision course with the world's most infamous, swishy, and soused pirate. The ghostly Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem) and his undead crew are looking for a release from their curse and of course vengeance against Sparrow, and Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) is their key to reaching their target. Henry Turner (Brenton Thwaites), the son of Elizabeth Swan and Will Turner, is looking to retrieve the mystical Trident to erase all nautical curses, thus freeing his father's indentured servitude aboard the Flying Dutchman. Carina Smyth (Kaya Scodelario) is looking to discover the whereabouts of her father via clues tied into astronomy. All the parties are fighting to be the first to discover the location of the Trident and get what they feel is deserved. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales has some advantages that are worth discussing before attention turns to what's wrong with the franchise as a whole. Unlike Rob Marshall, directors Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg (Kon-Tiki) understand how to expressly direct action sequences. They have a strong sense of visuals and know how to hit some majestic big screen imagery, whether it's a see-through silhouette of a zombie shark, or Salazar's ship splaying like a retracting ribcage, or a runaway bank heist with a literal runaway building. There's a terrific scene of visual comedy and action when Sparrow is trapped in a spinning guillotine, with the blade coming perilously close only to fall away from gravity and then repeat the process. That was a moment that made me think of the original 2003 film's comic inventiveness. Instead of just having cool ideas and concepts (carnivorous mermaids, a psychically controlled ship), Pirates 5 at least puts them to better effect. It feels like greater care has been put into meaningfully incorporating the elements of the story, though there are still noticeable shortcomings. I loved the look of Bardem's villain and the CGI texture that made him seem like he was underwater. It added an unsettling dreamlike quality. Jack Sparrow is thankfully once again a supporting character. There are also several other characters that are worthy of our attention, plus the welcomed return of Barbossa. The movie comes together quite well for an extravagant final set-piece that reasonably serves as an emotional climax. For the last couple days since my screening, I've been turning over in my head reasons why the Pirates sequels, especially of late, have felt so removed from the original film and even the lesser sequels from 2006 and 2007. I think I have deduced the three essential missing ingredients: clarity, urgency, and characters. The first three Pirates films were gloriously complicated and convoluted, a series of spinning plotlines that weaved in and out, intertwined with conspiracy, collusion, and reversals. They're overly plotted affairs, and eventually the third films succumbs to the pitfalls of convolution. However, something readily apparent in those movies was a sense of clarity in the individual scenes. Perhaps the overall picture was murky but in the moment you knew what needed to happen, which characters had opposing goals, and what those conflicts were. It's those opposing goals that provide much of the enjoyable confrontations and complications in the film. Take for instance the first meeting with Jack Sparrow and Will Turner in the blacksmith's shop. Jack is looking to free himself of his shackles and escape. Will is looking to capture Jack, for his believed assault on Elizabeth, and he's also looking to prove himself as a swordsman. One of them wants to leave and one of them wants to delay that leave. It's clear. The scene plays out as the characters clash but we, the audience, know the needs of the scene, and it allows each to reveal their character through action. The majority of the first three films follow this edict. The allegiances are all in conflict: Barbossa wants to alleviate his curse, Jack wants vengeance and to regain his ship, Will wants to rescue Elizabeth, and none of them trust the other. While the dynamics are complicated they are built upon classic storytelling devices of conflict/opposing goals and there's a genuine clarity in the micro. You know what the characters need scene-to-scene and why they are in conflict and what those goals are. In Pirates 5, the goals are too vague or overly generalized, and from scene-to-scene there's little internal logic established for the actions to have significance. The next missing element is urgency, which is a natural byproduct of clarity. If you don't know what your characters are doing or what their goals are then it's hard to maintain a sense of urgency. The stakes of this franchise have felt a bit wishy washy after the culmination of 2007's At World's End. Before, the characters felt like they had something to lose, something that might not be accomplished. Look at the first Pirates film and you see that those goals are being accomplished poorly. There are complications and unexpected detours, but the stakes felt real because there were ongoing challenges. I think the absolving of stakes in the franchise has gone directly hand-in-hand with the series becoming more jokey. Once characters become cartoons the sense of danger dissipates and then anything can become lazily excusable. There is no recognition of an over-the-top anymore, which then makes the characters feel limitless. That's not good when they're supposed to be going against supernatural villains who present their own special powers. In Pirates 5, the characters bumble through every sort of scenario, and while they may not be in control at the moment, you never really fear for them. It's a safe series of chases and escapes like a Saturday morning cartoon you know will merely reset its characters back to their starting positions by the next adventure. It feels weightless, which is shocking considering the Macguffin everyone is after eliminates all known curses. Finally, with the series becoming jokier, it's become more of the Jack Sparrow Show to its overall detriment. Maybe it's too much of a good thing, or maybe it's a latent realization that Sparrow was never the main character of the original trilogy, but Depp's iconic figure has simply lost some of his luster. It feels like Depp is on sashay autopilot. He's still a charming rogue but it's become drastically obvious that he needs supporting characters that can stand on their own to serve as foils. He's a character that leaps off the screen; however, if he's our only focus, then his act starts to curdle into schtick. There are sequences that only serve to deliver misapplied comedy, like a beachside wedding where Jack is strong-armed into marrying an ugly woman. Jack should not be the lead character but he also still needs to be a character with a sufficient storyline and arc, which has not happened since At World's End. He's become the Halloween costume of Captain Jack Sparrow, content to coast on audience good will repeating the same act and delivering the same punchlines. Likewise, the characters supporting Jack Sparrow need their own individually compelling stories and motivations to alleviate some of the pressure. Fortunately, one of the more noticeable improvements with Pirates 5 is that there are some interesting supporting characters, chiefly Scodelario (The Maze Runner). She could have been a discount version of Keria Knightley, much in the same way that Thwaits (The Giver) is so bland he comes across as a discount Orlando Bloom. While she follows the same feisty, independent-woman-ahead-of-her-time model, she manages to separate with her own identity, a woman who loves science, pushes against authority, and is desperate to discover the whereabouts of her father. Her discovery of her lineage provides the film with an unanticipated degree of emotion. She's a fun character who can provide a rich, exasperated sense of irony as a learned woman constantly being mistaken for a witch, and then when called upon, she provides the heart of the story with her family drama. Likewise, Barbossa has always been one of the series highlights and in particular the MVP of On Stranger Tides. As he's waffled between friend and foe, Rush has always found a way to make him worthy of our attention. He gets what I'll call the Yondo treatment in Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2 (supporting character elevated into force that can legitimately elicit audience emotion). He comes into the film late but he dominates the second half. Pirates 5 also has a superior villain to On Stranger Tides. Javier Bardem (Skyfall) eats up every second as his ghostly captain and his enjoyment is infectious. He's weird and creepy and just the right kind of crazy to make him even more dangerous. Also worth noting is a flashback scene that explores the personal connections between Sparrow and Salazar, though Salazar's back-story is still rather weak even with the mysterious Caribbean volcanic lava pits. The sequence is noticeable for the fact that it employs the de-aging CGI technology on Depp, making him look like a plasticized version of himself circa... Edward Scissorhands? It's a neat trick and it seems like nobody does the de-aging effect better than Disney at this point (Michael Douglas in Ant-Man, Robert Downey Jr. in Civil War). But then the movie keeps featuring the effect, showcasing it in ill-advised close-ups, and the magic starts to fade and we're reminded of its fakeness. It's a moment that inadvertently sums up the later Pirates sequels: a neat trick undone by sloppy repetition and a lack of self-control. If you're a fan of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, by all means you'll find enough to satisfy your appetite with the fifth installment. At this point audience expectations have become entrenched, which is one of the reasons why Jack Sparrow has morphed into a Looney Tunes cartoon rather than a fleshed-out comic character with depths of danger. I don't regret seeing the latest Pirates film but I would also shed few tears if this were the last time we visit this universe. The recent sequels leave the inescapable impression of listless fan fiction. They're trying to recapture the magic formula of the original but missing the crucial elements that made a movie about drunken pirates and zombies a zeitgeist-harnessing, culture-defining classic. The sequels have lacked consistently effective clarity, urgency, and characterization to register as anything but generally incomprehensible, vacant, disposable mass entertainment. It's become product, and maybe that was inevitable for what once felt like something so different and subversive, especially coming from the Mouse House. Age softens all franchises and a safe sense of routine creeps in. They start becoming imitations of themselves and then imitations of the imitations. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales is a fitfully entertaining venture that saves its best stuff for last, has some solid supporting turns, and decent fantasy-horror visuals. It's also a reminder of what has been lost and, unless the franchise changes course, will continue to be lost. Nate's Grade: B-
The public consensus seemed to very clearly be that there was no need for yet another Pirates of the Caribbean movie especially when considering the bad taste left by the last installment, 2011's On Stranger Tides. There was no need to roll out Johnny Depp's most iconic character only for the purposes of likely tarnishing the legacy of Captain Jack Sparrow further. Of course, considering the fact On Stranger Tides still made over a billion dollars worldwide despite the lukewarm audience reaction and even worse critical reception it was almost guaranteed we'd be getting another pirate adventure at some point. Well, that day has finally come and the question this fifth installment in the franchise was going to need to answer first and foremost was that of, "Is this necessary?" It seems screenwriter Jeff Nathanson (Catch Me If You Can) understood as much and thus kicks off his attempt at a Pirates movie by re-introducing us to Henry Turner, son of William (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Turner (Kiera Knightley), as he vows to his father to figure out a way to free him from the confines of The Flying Dutchmen; a ship that carries souls to the other side and only allows its captain and crew to set foot on land for one day every decade. It seemed the fates of William and Elizabeth were sealed given that post-credit stinger in At World's End, but with great power comes great responsibility and Nathanson clearly felt the importance of intertwining such fates as those of the Turner's with that of Captain Jack's. This certainly doesn't hurt and the script sets the main objective up clearly enough that we can get on board without much need for hesitation; this is especially true if you weren't a fan of the direction original screenwriters Terry Rossio and Ted Elliott took the first trilogy of films in as Dead Men Tell No Tales essentially undoes every complexity that original trilogy worked to accomplish. While that rubs me something like the wrong way given I have great admiration for what Gore Verbinski and his team accomplished the fact Dead Men Tell No Tales ends up being a rather enjoyable action romp makes me feel slightly better about Nathanson's change of course. And so, while Dead Men Tell No Tales certainly feels more significant to the overall legend of Captain Jack than the bland and generic previous film it is still unable to recapture the majesty of those first three adventures. read the whole review at www.reviewsfromabed.com
In a similar way that Mad Max Fury Road, Jason Bourne, The Force Awakens, Creed, and Jurassic World, Dead Men Tell No Tales attempts to make both a sequel and a reboot, which some people refer to as a remake-quel. Remarkably, it succeeds in doing just that. Honoring the lore that came before and establishing fun new characters to follow as well, Dead Men Tell No Tales is the best Pirates film since the original. That's a surprisingly impressive feat. Picking up a good time after At World's End (I think 19 years to be exact), Henry Turner, searches for a potential item that would reverse all of the curses in the Caribbean, including his father's lifetime duty as captain of the Flying Dutchman. Part of what makes this film so great is that it revitalizes the series in an unexpected way. I never knew how much I would have enjoyed following new characters (albeit similar in spirit to those of Elizabeth and William). Much like the last few entries, there are a few very unfunny and cringe worthy Jack Sparrow moments, but that's to be expected at this point. Tonally and aesthetically, Dead Men Tell No Tales is a return to what made The Curse of the Black Pearl so special. Colorful, grandiose, ambitious, and even at times frightening is exactly what this film needed to recapture. Of course, there are plenty of fantastic action sequences, visually stunning special effects, and the inevitably charmingly convoluted plot. Speaking of charming, Henry and his love interest, Carina, are very good together in playing off of Sparrow. They're far from throw away characters like Philip and Syrena were last time around. I actually found myself getting invested in Henry's mission to save his father, and Carina's astronomical goals. Most pleasing of all is seeing the return of Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightly in minor but significant roles. The film doesn't rely on the presence of them, instead using their legacy as a bolster for the development of a new story with fresh faces. Combining those characters with Sparrow, Barbossa, and a typically solid turn from Javier Bardem made this film a joy to watch. One that has enough humor, and a surprising amount of heart and emotional payoff for a Pirates film. I can't believe I'm saying this, but I would love another sequel, heck maybe even another few films. +Surprises & returns +Brings the fun & mystique back to the series +Henry & Carina -Some humor falls flat..big time 8.0/10
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